15 million Ukrainian are displaced by Russia's war.
Millions miss a meal or two each day.
Help us change that! Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 36

A.M. 2962. B.C. 1042.

This Psalm, as the preceding, and many others, seems to have been composed by David during the persecution he suffered from Saul, and probably at, or near, the beginning of it, while Saul outwardly professed kindness to him, but yet gave evident proofs that he desired, and was secretly plotting his ruin. This malice and treachery David here describes, (without naming Saul, toward whom he conducted himself with due reverence,) and opposes thereunto the fidelity and goodness of God, who governs the whole world, and takes care of all his creatures, of beasts as well as men. Whence he inferred, that he would not desert or neglect him, or any that depended on him, and were his faithful servants, as he in an especial manner professed himself to be, and prayed that he might continue. The Psalm has three parts:

(1,) He describes the false and treacherous contrivances of the wicked, Psalms 36:1-4 .

(2,) Extols the mercy, faithfulness, and loving-kindness of the Lord, Psalms 36:5-9 .

(3,) Prays for a continuation thereof to himself and the church, and foretels the downfall of the wicked 10-12.

Verses 1-2

Psalms 36:1-2. The transgression of the wicked saith, &c. When I consider the great and manifold transgressions of ungodly men, I conclude, within myself, that they have cast off all fear and serious belief of the Divine Majesty. For he flattereth himself in his own eyes He deceiveth himself with vain and false persuasions, that God does not notice or mind his sins, or that he will not punish them. Until his iniquity be found to be hateful That is, until God, by some dreadful judgment, undeceive him, and find, or make him and others to find by experience, that his iniquity is abominable and hateful, and therefore cannot, and does not, escape a severe punishment. “The last day,” says Dr. Horne, “will show strange instances of this folly.”

Verses 3-4

Psalms 36:3-4. The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit Are wicked and deceitful. He hath left off to be wise and to do good Once he had some degrees of wisdom, and did things that were apparently good, and seemed to be under the government of religion: but now he is an open apostate from that which he once professed. He deviseth mischief upon his bed Freely from his own inclination, when none are present to provoke him to it. He setteth himself in a way that is not good He doth not repent of his wicked devices, but resolutely proceeds to execute them, and persists therein. He abhorreth not evil Though he sometimes professes to feel remorse for his conduct, and desists for a time from his evil practices, yet he does not truly repent of, nor abhor them, and therefore is ready to return to them when any occasion offers itself.

Verses 5-6

Psalms 36:5-6. Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens Where it reigns in perfection and to eternity; and from whence it is extended to the sinful and miserable children of men, who peculiarly need it And thy faithfulness The truth, both of thy threatenings against thine enemies, and of thy promises made to good men; reacheth unto the clouds Is far above our reach, greater and higher than we can apprehend it. As if he had said, Mine enemies are cruel and perfidious, but thou art infinite in mercy and faithfulness, and in righteousness and lovingkindness, as it here follows: and, therefore, though I despair of them, yet I trust in thee, as other men do for these reasons. Thy righteousness In all thy counsels and ways in the government of the world; is like the great mountains Steadfast and immoveable: eminent and conspicuous to all men. Thy judgments The executions of thy counsels, or the administration of the affairs of the world, and of thy church; are a great deep Unsearchable as the ocean. O Lord, thou preservest man and beast The worst of men, yea, even the brute beasts have experience of thy care and kindness, and therefore I have no reason to doubt of it.

Verses 7-8

Psalms 36:7-8. How excellent is thy loving-kindness Or thy mercy: for it is the same word which is so rendered, Psalms 36:5. The sense is, though all thine attributes be excellent and glorious, yet, above all, thy mercy is most excellent, or precious and amiable, as being most necessary and beneficial unto us, poor sinful miserable men. Therefore the children of men put their trust, &c. Cheerfully commit themselves to thy care and kindness, notwithstanding their own sinfulness, and the rage and power of their adversaries; against all which thy mercy is a sufficient security. They shall be abundantly satisfied That is, those children of men who trust in thee, as he now said, though they are straitened, oppressed, and persecuted; yet they shall not only be protected and supported for the present; but in due time shall have all their wants and desires fully satisfied. Hebrew, ירוין , jirvejun, shall be watered, or made drunk, that is, shall be, as it were, overwhelmed with the abundance of its blessings. With the fatness of thy house With those rich and delightful provisions which thou hast prepared for them in the place of thy worship on earth, thy tabernacle, where thou displayest thy glory, communicatest thy blessings, and acceptest the prayers and praises of thy people. The benefit of holy ordinances is the fatness of God’s house here below, sweet to a sanctified soul, and strengthening to the spiritual and divine life; with this God’s people are abundantly satisfied; they desire nothing more in this world than to live a life of communion with God; and to have the comfort of the promises. But the full, the complete satisfaction is reserved for the future state, and the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Every vessel will be perfectly full there. Thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures Pleasures that are truly divine; which not only come from thee, as the author of them, but which terminate in thee as the matter and centre of them; which, being purely spiritual, are of the same nature with those of the glorious inhabitants of the heavenly world, and bear some analogy even to the delights of the Eternal Mind. There is a river of these pleasures always full, always fresh, always flowing. There is enough for all, enough for each, enough for evermore, Psalms 46:4. God has not only provided this river for his people, but he makes them to drink of it; works in them a gracious appetite for these spiritual enjoyments, and, by his Spirit, refreshes their souls with them. In heaven they shall for ever drink of them, and shall be satiated with a fulness of joy.

Verse 9

Psalms 36:9. With thee is the fountain of life From which those rivers of pleasure flow. Life is in God as in a fountain, and from him is derived to us. As the God of nature, he is the fountain of natural life; in him we live, and move, and have our being. As the God of grace, he is the fountain of spiritual life: all the strength and comfort of sanctified souls; all their gracious principles, powers, and performances, are from him. He is the spring and author of all their sensations of divine things, and of all their motions toward them; and he invites all that thirst, nay, and whosoever will, to come and partake of these waters of life freely. As the God of glory, he is the fountain of eternal life: the happiness of glorified saints consists in the vision and fruition of him, and in the immediate communications of his love, without interruption, or fear, or cessation. This glorious, blessed, and endless life is alone worthy of the name of life: this present temporal life being only a passage to death, and a theatre of great and manifold calamities. In thy light In the knowledge of thee in grace, and the vision of thee in glory; especially in the latter; in the light of thy countenance, or glorious presence, which then shall be fully manifested unto us, when we shall see thee clearly and face to face, and not through a glass and darkly, as we now see; shall we see light The light of life, as it is called, John 8:12; light in this clause being the same thing with life in the former: pure light without any mixture of darkness; knowledge without ignorance, holiness without sin, happiness without misery. The word light is elegantly repeated in another signification; in the former clause it is light discovering, in this, light discovered or enjoyed.

Verse 10

Psalms 36:10. O continue thy loving-kindness unto them, that know thee That is, that know thee so as sincerely to love thee, for every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God: whereas he that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love, 1 John 4:7. As thou hast begun, so continue the manifestation and exhibition of thy loving-kindness to such, both in this life and the next. Hebrew, משׁךְ חסדךְ , meshok chasdecha, extend, or draw forth thy lovingkindness, or mercy: let it not be like a fountain sealed, but let it be drawn forth for their comfort. And thy righteousness to the upright in heart By giving them that protection and assistance, which thou art by nature inclined, and by thy promise engaged to give them.

Verse 11

Psalms 36:11. Let not the foot of pride That is, of my proud and insolent enemies; come against me Or upon me, namely, so as to overthrow or remove me, as it is in the next clause; either, 1st, From my trust in, and obedience to thee: or, 2d, From my place and station; from the land of my nativity, and the place of thy worship. Or as תנדני , tenedeeni, may be rendered, shake me, or cast me down, that is, subdue and destroy me. Some translate the former clause; Let me not be trampled under the foot of pride. “There seems,” says Dr. Dodd, “to be a particular beauty in this expression, by which David elegantly intimates the supercilious haughtiness and disdainful insolence of his enemy; who, if he had been in his power, would spurn him under his foot, and trample on him.”

Verse 12

Psalms 36:12. There are the workers of iniquity fallen There, where they came against me, and hoped to ruin me. He seems, as it were, to point at the place with his finger, as if their downfall were already effected, and he could tell all the circumstances of it. Upon the very spot where they practise their treachery, they receive their downfall, which is the proper force of the word שׁם , sham, as אז , az, denotes the very instant of time.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 36". Benson's Commentary. 1857.